NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — There are thousands of open teaching jobs around Florida. And some River Ridge High School students want to fill them.
“I think there are only so many things you can do to entice people. You need people who want to be a teacher, people that have a heart, that passion,” said senior Kylie Larson.
The River Ridge teaching academy is helping students discover if they have that passion and if teaching is what they want to do. The hope is they’ll all not only become teachers but return to Pasco County to teach here.
The contracts are a promise from the district that they’ll have a job in Pasco County when they finish college. Beth Hess developed the program at River Ridge.
“With it being in high school, this is an opportunity for students to come in, step into the teaching profession and then make a decision. Is this a right fit for you, or is it not,” said Hess.
A report from the State Board of Education showed almost 4,500 teaching vacancies in Florida.
There are programs to offer incentives including bonuses, but none of these future teachers say they are getting into the career for the money.
“Giving money you might get a couple more people. But doing academies like this, you really find the strong people that have the heart for education.” said student Natalie Riordan,
The excitement today is not only for this group of future teachers, but a River Ridge grad, who is the first from the teaching academy to officially come back and have a teaching job in Pasco County.
“It’s very hard once you’ve had a student for five years to let go. But when I’m letting go knowing they are going to college and that they are bringing everything they’ve learned back into this profession, I dry my tears and I celebrate with them,” said Hess.
There are now teaching academies at several schools around the Bay Area including three in Pasco County.